Mac Engel

Memo to MLB teams that want a new manager: Hire Ron Washington

Ron Washington says he’s happy as third-base coach with the Oakland Athletics.
Ron Washington says he’s happy as third-base coach with the Oakland Athletics. AP

Ron Washington is standing at third base wearing his A’s uniform, and it looks as if he never left Oakland.

It also looks like he hasn’t aged a minute since he left there for Texas in November 2006.

Washington is back with the A’s as their third base coach, the same job he had when Rangers general manger Jon Daniels surprised everybody by making him his manager.

Wash got his old job back full-time in August. He has a relationship with A’s general manager Billy Beane, and could have this job working with infielders and as a third base coach until he decides it’s time to retire.

“I’m very happy and I’m in a good place,” he said on Sunday after the Rangers played the A’s.

The first big league team looking for a manger should make its first call to Ron Washington.

His résumé has its warts of stupid but if a team wants a manager who will stick by his players and connect with fans, Wash is the ideal hire.

Both the game and its players are better with Ron Washington in it.

“Of course I’d like to manage again,” he told me, “but I am going to focus on what I am doing here and hope that opportunity presents itself somewhere down the future.”

He will be 64 next month and he has no idea whether he will have another chance to manage in the major leagues.

“You know ... I really don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t know I was going to get that first one.”

As ugly and needless as his departure from the Rangers was in September 2014, enough time has passed that his entire body of work needs to be considered.

The ugly is that he admitted to cocaine use in 2010, and that he committed the greatest baseball sin of all — he quit before the end of a horrendous season.

Just writing that last sentence hurts; any owner or general manager would be justified in passing on Wash because of that decision. He put the Rangers in a terrible position.

He is not the first manager to abuse a substance, nor is he the first man in baseball to admit to being untruthful to his wife. To quit on the team because of the latter is the baseball sin that no explanation may be accepted. That’s the one that could keep him at third base.

There is also no way he would have left the Rangers had they been contending for a playoff spot.

But he did and in doing so it tainted what should have been a wonderful legacy complete with an induction to the Rangers Hall of Fame.

The man is the Texas Rangers’ winningest manager. He led the most successful run in franchise history as the team won 90 or more games and reached two World Series from 2010-13.

Those are not accidents.

Some of his baseball “gut” decisions drove you nuts, but no manager or coach in the history of DFW has been more genuine or real than Wash. It helped him build a connection with fans that no other coach in this area has ever duplicated.

He had his players’ backs and they played for him because of it. Wash also had the uncanny ability to “manage up” and endure the Rangers’ constantly evolving front-office situation. At a minimum, he’s a survivor.

The problem was Wash’s relationship with himself, his demons and his shortcomings, which made him a sympathetic figure.

They also were his undoing at a job in which he excelled.

Can another team look at the entire picture of Washington to give him a managerial job? His .521 winning percentage in nearly eight seasons says he should have another chance.

“I’m in this game because I love it and love givin’ and I am givin’ right now,” he said. “So we’ll see what the future holds.”

He does not sound like he’s in any rush and he will accept whatever happens today because, today, he’s in big league baseball.

Whatever dumb decisions he made in 2014 are in the past and he and his family deal with those scars and no one else.

Baseball is better with Ron Washington in it, and a team would be better with Ron Washington as its manager.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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